Research Reports - The relationship between alcohol and cognitive functioning following traumatic brain injury

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2013 Jan 23

Ponsford J, Tweedly L, Taffe J

The present study aimed to examine the association between frequency and quantity
of alcohol consumption and cognitive functioning following traumatic brain injury
(TBI). Sixty moderately to severely injured individuals had completed the Alcohol
Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) to measure preinjury alcohol use soon
after injury and were recruited and assessed with AUDIT and Time Line Follow-Back
(TLFB), as a measure of frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption at 6-9
months post injury. Fifty participants completed both AUDIT and TLFB at a
follow-up assessment at 12-15 months post injury. Measures of processing
speed/attention, memory, and executive function were also administered.
Regression analyses were used to examine the relationships between alcohol use
and cognition at the two occasions of measurement. Harmful or hazardous alcohol
use pre injury was associated with poorer memory performance on the California
Verbal Learning Test (CVLT-II) and slower processing speed on Symbol Digit
Modalities Test on average across postinjury measurement occasions, but not with
executive functioning, measured by the Modified Six Elements Test (MSET) at 6-9
months post injury. On the other hand, executive functioning on MSET 6-9 months
post injury was significantly poorer in participants who were consuming any
alcohol at all in the month prior to follow-up assessment. The current study
provides evidence showing that pre- and postinjury alcohol use is negatively
associated with different aspects of cognitive functioning following TBI. In
addition to providing some support for the provision of advice to abstain from
alcohol after injury, these findings suggest that interventions to reduce
postinjury alcohol use may be useful.

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